History of Bethel Methodist Church (Lukin Township) written by Nancy King
The first Methodist Church in Lawrence County was the Bethel Methodist Episcopal Church, organized as a Methodist Class in the winter of 1818-19. Bethel is a Biblical word meaning “A Holy Place”. The charter members of this group were Jacob Schrader, Catherine Schrader, John Ruark, Mary Ruark, James Rawlings and wife, Nancy Keneipp and Elizabeth Schrader. The Ruark and Schrader families were among the early settlers of what is now Lukin Township. John Ruark’s father and brother, both named Shadrack, were Methodist ministers and Jacob Schrader had strong ties to the leaders of the Methodist Church.
Once organized, they began holding meetings in the home of Jacob Schrader. A second class was formed consisting of children and 15 year old Samuel Schrader was appointed leader of this class. Two local preachers from Indiana, Stone and Wallace, assisted these early settlers in establishing Methodism in Lawrence County. John Schrader, another son of Jacob, was a Methodist minister and circuit rider, credited with establishing many churches in southern Indiana. The Rev John Schrader was assigned to the First Methodist Church of Vincennes in 1815. He also assisted in the task of establishing a Methodist society in this area which was the home of his family. Charles Solcumb was the first pastorate appointed in 1819 to the Mt. Carmel circuit, which included territory in what is now Edwards, Lawrence, Wabash, Crawford, Jasper, and Richland counties.
The Bethel congregation continued to meet in their homes and Samuel Schrader’s wagon shed, until a log structure was erected in 1831. The log church also served as a school for the local children. The building was described as being very primitive with seating made from split logs. Samuel married Margaret Corrie in 1825 and they joined with the other members of Bethel, working together for Bethel’s first church building. Margaret rode horse back through the community and neighboring towns, raising money to build the log church.
|Bethel church 1857|
A frame church was erected in 1857 on land that Samuel and Margaret deeded to the Bethel congregation. The church had two doors in the front for people to enter, one for the women and children, and one for the men. The congregation grew and began looking ahead to the construction of a larger brick building. The third building became a reality in 1891, when construction was completed, followed by a dedication service in 1892. The frame church was sold and moved to another location.
This building continued serving the Bethel community until 1997, when the attendance had dwindled to only ten faithful attendees. The difficult decision was made to close the doors of the church. The congregation held a homecoming celebration in the summer and the final
was held in December of 1997. Not
wanting to see the beloved church vandalized or converted to another use, the
building was taken down and the Bethel Methodist Church became another Lawrence
|Bethel Church 1917|